As promised two weeks ago, Oregon officials Tuesday filed with a federal appeals court to reverse FERC’s conditioned approval of the NorthernStar Natural Gas Bradwood Landing liquefied natural gas (LNG) receiving terminal project along the Columbia River. Earlier this month the Commission refused to reconsider its approval, which is based on Bradwood Landing obtaining all local and state permits.

As Gov. Ted Kulongoski has maintained he is not unalterably opposed to an LNG facility in his state, the filing to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals does not constitute an objection to a facility in the sate, according to Oregon Attorney General John Kroger and other state officials cited in a report in the Portland Oregonian.

Michael Grainey, the executive director of the Oregon Department of Energy, told NGI earlier in January that the state would appeal the decision of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) while speaking at an energy conference in Seattle the day FERC decided not to reconsider its approval. At the time, Grainey said the state and other stakeholders were likely to appeal FERC’s Jan. 15 action (see Daily GPI, Jan. 16).

A Portland, OR-based spokesperson for NorthernStar’s Bradwood Landing project told NGI Tuesday that the terminal sponsors have “always anticipated” the possibility of appellate court review, and Bradwood Landing’s development plans built that possibility into the timetable.

“While the issue remains before the court, we will continue to work with the states of Oregon and Washington to assist in their review of our state permits,” said the spokesperson, noting there is a proposed connecting transmission pipeline that would cross the Columbia River and traverse through a small portion of southwest Washington state. “Until we have satisfied FERC’s conditions, together with all applicable state and local permits, construction on the project cannot begin.”

A senior official with a competing LNG project proposal that is just beginning the federal permitting process, Oregon LNG, predicted that Bradwood Landing, which is the most advanced of three LNG projects in Oregon, is now “stuck in a legal fight between the state and FERC” that could take years to resolve.

“At Oregon LNG, we have been working hard from the beginning to avoid any state-vs.-federal conflict,” said Mohammed Alrai, senior vice president at the company and a former executive with Calpine Corp. when it began the proposed LNG project as the Skipanon LNG facility on a 96-acre site leased from the Port of Astoria, OR. “That is why we went through the local land-use process back in 2006. We are also working closely with the state to avoid similar pitfalls.”

The Oregonian report speculated that if the federal appellate court sends the case back to FERC for reconsideration, Oregon could receive a “friendlier hearing,” given the Obama administration’s appointment of Jon Wellinghoff, a longtime renewable energy champion, as the acting head of FERC. Wellinghoff was the lone dissenting vote when FERC gave its approval on a 4-1 vote to the Bradwood Landing project.

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